By Donald A. Dewsbury
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Additional resources for Comparative Animal Behaviour
According to this conception, a species may be defined as a group of organisms that are capable of freely interbreeding under natural conditions but which do not freely interbreed with animals of other groups. Essentially, this means that species are defined in terms of their reproductive behavior and reproduction rather than their appearance. Animals belong to the same species if they are capable of breeding freely in nature. There are many cases in which animals of different species can be interbred in captivity but do not interbreed in nature.
The offspring of cross-species matings are almost always at a competitive disadvantage of one kind or other relative to the offspring of within-species matings. For these reasons, evolutionary forces appear to act to produce isolating mechanisms which function as early as possible in a potential reproductive encounter. It is more efficient to break off pairing on the basis of a courtship signal than through the sterility of a hybrid that has been produced through such mating. TAXONOMY Taxonomy is concerned with the identification, naming, and classification of animals.
Individual differences are not "error variance," as often treated in statistical analyses. Each organism is unique; individual differences are real and must be dealt with in the study of behavior. Reproductive Isolating Mechanisms As was discussed above, a species is a group of organisms which breed among themselves in nature but not with organisms of other species. " They may be defined as "biological properties of individuals that prevent the interbreeding of populations that are actually or potentially sympatric" (Mayr, 1963, p.